Entertainment People Get the popcorn! Garry Linnell is having a lend of Hollywood genius
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Get the popcorn! Garry Linnell is having a lend of Hollywood genius

Garry Linnell had an idea on how to recreate the priceless ‘‘Big Screen Experience’’. Photo: Getty/TND
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When I heard the news I clenched my fists in anger and wept rivers of tears.

It was an act of such utter cruelty and inhumanity my body shook with bone-jarring sobs.

I knew then that I had to do something for that brutally exploited group who had become the greatest victims of the global pandemic.

I would find a way to support the victims of Hollywood’s mean-spirited business culture.

Last week Warner Brothers announced that because American cinemas would continue operating at reduced capacity for the foreseeable future, its biggest movies planned for the next 12 months would be made available on the American streaming platform HBO Max on the same day they were released in theatres.

The news that another big studio was shifting away from big screens and launching films to home subscribers was greeted with dismay and fury.

“Disbelief,” was the reaction from the acclaimed director Christopher Nolan, a man revered for his commitment to his art, his determination to only make movies that run for a minimum of two and a half hours and his proud refusal to cheapen his name by shortening it to “Chris”.

His cinematic masterpieces like Interstellar and Inception are widely admired and while many find them mysterious and incomprehensible, they know it is only because they lack Nolan’s intellect and gravitas.

“It’s not how you treat filmmakers and stars,” Nolan said about the move away from cinemas. Those Warner Brothers movies affected by the decision, he said, “are meant to be big screen experiences”.

Big screen experiences. That was it! When I heard Nolan’s humble and selfless observation I suddenly knew how I could support him and thousands of others so thoughtlessly abandoned by the big studios.

Movie mastermind Christopher Nolan (note, that’s Christopher – not Chris). Photo: Getty

As a tribute to Nolan I would bring back the Big Screen Experience.

I would recreate the magic of going to the movies.

Not only that, but I would also revive the respect and dignity the big cinema chains have always shown their customers.

So I bought an 85-inch, 3D, HD, Almost-As-Smart-As-Christopher-Nolan TV set and invited our neighbours to a Saturday night Big Screen Experience at my place.

I made a pile of popcorn and carefully followed the cinema-standard recipe by leaving it in the sun for three days in a kilo of salt in order to obtain that theatre-quality texture and flavour of dry cardboard.

It only cost $5 to make so I marked it up by 1000 per cent because tradition is an important part of the Big Screen Experience.

I filled some empty water bottles lying in the boot of the car with cool tap water and put a $6 price tag on each.

Then I prepared the seating.

I pulled some of the springs out of the couch.

I stuffed used chewing gum down the back of chairs.

I spilled soft drinks and ice-cream on the seats to obtain the necessary stickiness one experiences whenever shifting position during a long movie.

I invited the twin brothers down the street who play for the local basketball team and who are both a shade over seven foot tall.

I told them they could have the front seats – as long as they wore hats and stood up at crucial moments in the movie.

An hour before everyone arrived I scented the room by strategically placing several pairs of unwashed gym socks under the couch and allowing the wet dog to dry himself on the rug.

It was a hot evening so when the neighbours turned up I made them stand outside in a queue until the old ones showed signs of collapsing.

Then I took $18 from each of them and showed all 37 of them to the couch and three seats I had so thoughtfully prepared.

‘By God this brings back the memories!’ shouted one grateful neighbour overcome with nostalgia.

 ‘Turn up the air conditioning will ya?’ implored another. ‘It’s not a Big Screen Experience unless I can see my breath coming out!’

When everyone was ready I played 40 minutes of consecutive advertisements, most of them for obscure local businesses fronted by people with bad skin and crooked teeth.

When the movie began – another classic Christopher Nolan epic, of course – I waited 20 minutes.

Then I allowed more neighbours to wander in and move about the darkened room coughing, rattling packets of chips and loudly debating where they should sit.

What a perfect night it was. When the movie ended we scratched our heads and asked: “So what was that film all about?’ before concluding unanimously that Christopher Nolan was definitely a genius.

We also agreed there was nothing like the Big Screen Experience.

And we all wondered why we didn’t do it more often.

Walkley Award winner Garry Linnell is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected journalists and editors